Tug O’ War

Everybody’s pulling on me – everybody. I don’t know how they did it. I definitely didn’t attend that meeting, and it seems to me there should be some law against it. I’ve never seen the entire world work together for anything but THIS everyone seems to have agreed on! OK. Fine. Maybe EVERYBODY isn’t literally pulling on me, but it sure feels that way. Did you know that when you have kids, they don’t all want the same thing?? They all have different personalities, struggles, strengths, hopes, and dreams. Mix in a husband, and it’s enough to drive you batty. Oh, and Chewy, I didn’t forget you, pup; but, sheesh, even the dog wants something.

I’m not sure which will give out first: my strength, money, will, patience, or balance. Balance is essential in Tug O’ War, and balance is something I’ve learned quite a lot about these days. It’s one of those things you don’t overthink in your everyday lives unless you’re a professional athlete. I think about it all the time, not because I’m an athlete; clearly, I’m not. It’s more because of the accident I had nearly a year ago – a drunk driver hit me, and now everything has changed.

I’m a muscle-through kind of girl, and there isn’t much I can’t “suck up,” but balance isn’t a thing one can just muscle-through. If you don’t have it, you don’t have it. Spinning in the grass, staring up at the blue sky with my arms spread wide, until I fell to the ground watching the clouds spin round me was fun as a child, it’s not anymore. No, really, it’s not, not at all.

It will be one year since my accident in just under two weeks. Since then I’ve struggled with vertigo, migraines, nerve damage, back & neck pain from herniated disks, and the cognitive difficulties stemming from my concussion. Although I tried my best to muscle-through because I felt my family, my career, my duty to my students, and my church tugging at me, I couldn’t. The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is to rest until I’m “back to normal.” After months of therapy, The most maddening part is just waiting in between exercises until I can start again. If I try to muscle-through, I end up pushing my progress back. Imagine that! Working too hard works against me, and that’s the thing I’m best at, hard work. Up to this point in life, I’d never encountered anything that hard work couldn’t fix. Ironic.

I want to do things for myself. I want my independence. I’m desperate to drive again. I hate depending on others to do things for me, take me places, or help me with activities that should be easy. I need to stop telling the kids to get the food out of the toilet instead of the fridge. I need to stop forgetting what I’m trying to say if I have to balance at the same time. I need to stop forgetting the words I’m looking for; stop feeling like a fool about language when it has been my life. I want to be in the car and not feel like I’m going to die of nausea. I long for the day I can go to the grocery store, school, church, or a busy shop without my head pounding, spinning and forgetting how to speak. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made progress – but I’m impatient, and I should be better already. At least, that’s what I think.

Eventually, something starts to give and, I find myself these days thinking about the battle differently. Maybe I’m pulling the wrong direction. Perhaps I shouldn’t be fighting so hard to get back to where I was but to focus on where I should be going. Confronted with the genuine possibility that I may not be able to go back to my teaching job because they will no longer be able to hold the position for me if I have not recovered by a fast approaching date, I’ve begun to think about how I have been pulled there. If you’ve ever played Tug O’ War, you know that there are always some knuckleheads who pull out to the side, or down to the ground instead of straight back wasting their effort and the effort of everyone pulling with them. It may be because they have lost focus; perhaps they are more interested in rolling up their sleeves to get attention instead of racing on toward the goal; It could be they just don’t know what they’re doing; or, maybe they have a different objective. It might be time to assess my pulling partners to see if they are helping me win. It might be time to decide to cut some rope and play a two-sided game instead of four. To be brutally honest, I’ve got to be real about what winning looks like to me. I’m beginning to think it’s time to cut ties to stay in the game that counts – the one with the people I love, the people who are pulling with me.

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